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The Best Tips on How to Let Go of Your Favourite Clutter

Jana is a frugal DIY addict who is always testing fitness and work-from-home ideas as well as natural health tips for both humans and pets.

There is an emotional side to decluttering.

There is an emotional side to decluttering.

Hello, I Have a Problem

You've had it forever. That pebble with the strange patterns. That pile of letters from a friend you haven't seen in 10 years. Congratulations, you have discovered your favourite clutter.

Such things tend to stick around. Think back. How many times have you decimated clutter with a determined dustbin in hand and suddenly a rock or letter melts your heart? After telling yourself that you would decide about it later, the object survived the cull and moved house with the family a few more times.

Before you start to declutter, it's essential to find exciting reasons to carry you through. What about clearing the spare bedroom of its million mementoes to create an office to start that home business? Maybe you don't like a memory attached to a certain object. Think of the heaviness that will be gone once you let it go. Reasons can be financial, practical or spiritual. Here are some of my reasons to declutter.

1. Snap a Double

Gathering your reasons is just the start. But even when motivations are powerful, letting go of certain items can be difficult. One novel way to keep something without actually keeping it is to take a photo.

Create a special folder on your pc, phone or keep the photos on the camera. Tell yourself that you can look at your favourite clutter images anytime you feel like heading down memory lane. Then let the actual object go. No seriously, let it go.

This technique is effective because emotions fade faster towards an image than the real thing. When ready, simply delete the photo.

2. Gather Memories in a Book

When clutter has memories for you, one can feel like you are throwing away the good experiences along with that old movie ticket or Uncle Bob's thousand letters. A book can guard those rainbow moments.

Instead of having numerous unwanted objects, why not collect the attached memories in a journal? Take your time to reflect on each item, then capture its story on paper. Make the tale as long or as short as you want. Once you are done, let the item go. Whenever you feel like revisiting a good memory, make a hot brew and read through the journal.

3. Find a Good Home

Decluttering doesn't mean everything must go into the trash. You can sell an unwanted but valuable item or gift them to somebody. Take Uncle Bob's crate of letters. You don't want to throw them in the trash, and financially, they're worthless. Nobody will buy the collection and keep it safe. But what about Uncle Bob's children or siblings? The chances are that one of them would love to have letters written by their lost father and brother.

Would You Like Some of This Clutter?

You can give a much loved item away to somebody who will treasure it.

You can give a much loved item away to somebody who will treasure it.

4. Treat Yourself Like a Dog

The good way, of course. Just like dogs, the human brain loves rewards. You already promised yourself long-term rewards by identifying your reasons for decluttering. For example, once you get rid of all the stuff in the spare room you can get that home office you always wanted.

But you don't have to slog through weeks of decluttering before enjoying a reward. Instant or short-term rewards are like cheerleaders urging you towards the finishing line. Create several milestones to clear the spare room. It doesn't matter how small they are; the only rule is that they must move the process forward.

Next, identify the rewards for each milestone. Keep them simple. A snack, glass of wine, watching a movie, sleeping in - don't tell yourself decluttering doesn't deserve decadent moments. Getting rid of unwanted stuff can be emotionally exhausting so spoiling yourself will go a long way.

Annoy Yourself

That's right. Put your favourite clutter between your work stuff where it doesn't pull its weight.

That's right. Put your favourite clutter between your work stuff where it doesn't pull its weight.

5. Desensitize the Nostalgia

The biggest hook favourite clutter offers is nostalgia. It can be as threadbare as “I've had this movie ticket for twenty years,” to the more complex symbolism of lost relationships, bereavement or remarkable achievements.

When you decide you are better off without it, another powerful technique is to desensitize yourself towards the object. Luckily, this process takes minimal effort and happens almost by itself. The only thing required of you is to keep the item close - on your desk, the kitchen counter or if it's small enough; inside a pocket or purse. Since it serves no real purpose, the object will get in the way or become boring. Nostalgia dissolves in the presence of irritation or lack of novelty.

6. This Is Your Journey And Nobody's Business

Keep in mind that decluttering is never a streamlined process. It takes hard decisions, often moving stuff from one place to another and even dealing with other people's negativity. Unhelpful friends or family might declare you a hoarder or a significant other might not support throwing out anything.

Shaming and resistance could stall your progress but only if you let your inner critic agree. This step is not a pep talk - it's necessary for effective decluttering. For most of us who must divorce our favourite useless thing, the moment negative feelings arise, procrastination follows. Stay focused on your reasons and don't let anybody rush or slow you down. Move forward at your own pace.

7. Choose the Hour

Actually, ten minutes a day is fine, especially when times are busy.

  • Pick a time when you are less likely to be tired. One might be too fatigued before bed, after lunch or the evening chores.
  • Consider a time when interference from others is at a minimum.
  • It's fine not to work on this every day. Maybe your best free slot falls on a Sunday afternoon. Use it. Even a weekly stab at decluttering will eventually yield results.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit